Saturday, 18 April 2009

Playlisting Your Fiction...

This might just be a habit of mine - a fairly crazy habit, at that. But if I'm writing fiction, I tend to soundtrack it before I write.
I don't why music helps you visualise things so clearly - perhaps it's the film scores we've grown to know and love ever since they invented sound back in the late twenties. My very first fic, Residuals, had an odd mix of Les Miserables the musical (pure cheese, I know), some Goo Goo Dolls (workings of the adolescent mind, I'm afraid - it wasn't Evanescence, in my defence! ) and a sprinkling of The Corrs.
Ouch. Pretty awful mix, huh? That was my first. I don't know whether I developed any discernment about how awful my music taste was after that, but I never again tried to imagine a nineteenth century fic set to the wailings of a cheesy pop video.
But, interestingly enough, a short while after that I stumbled across a sountdrack cd for a little film called Kingdom of Heaven I'd never heard of. It was reduced in the music shop - so what the hey! I picked it up. It would probably be like every other soundtrack I'd ever heard (which up to then had been the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings soundtrack).
How wrong I was. I put it on my cd player while I was absent-mindedly doodling one time, and it absolutely blew me away. I had no idea of the plot, or what the film was even about (apart from 'It's to do with the crusades. And Orly!') It was the soundtrack to my summer holidays - all through a trip to Wales in the car, back in the car, going to Northumberland, BACK from Northumberland - even just driving to town and back. You can definitely say Harryu Gregson Williams won a fan that day! (And if the music in Chronicles of Narnia sounds a little familiar, it's because he composed that too. I love it when just occasionally he'll include a bit that sounds like he snuck it in from Kingdom of Heaven)
Athat, I went out and got the film - just to see what he set that awesome music to.
Some ten months later (And many, MANY rewatchings of KOH later) when I finally began Tu Salus Fidelium, I actually playlisted it with Harry Gregson-William's soundtrack music. No awful cheesy pop anthems this time - the pure taste of what I imagined the medieval to be. So - there was the KOH soundtrack, some Medieval Baebes ( unfortunately, this is the folk music equivalent of the Spice Girls - a disgusted medievalist laughed out loud when I confided I liked them one time over drinks) and a little bit of the Merchant of Venice soundtrack - erm, included, alas, for no better reason than 'it's another movie with Jeremy Irons... and it's sorta... um, medieval.' Not entirely sure whether my music taste has improved that much - but I will confess I have certain tracks I imagined entire chapters to. The very first chapter of Tu Salus Fidelium was imagined solely to Verbum Caro (by Spice Girls of the twelfth century Medieval Baebes).
As for the rest of the fic? You'll have to guess. But I'd be interested if anyone else has a piece of music that helps inspire them when writing - or just carries them back to the period in question...
Postcriptum:The ill-fated Moby Dick fic was imagined to a mix of the live-action Peter Pan soundtrack and er... Treasure Planet. Guess that explains a lot. An awful LOT.